tv MSNBC Live MSNBC March 21, 2013 8:00am-9:00am PDT
ensure that the iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons. peace is far more preferable to war. the inevitable costs, the unintended consequences that would come with war means that we have to do everything we can to try to resolve this diplom diplomatical diplomatically. because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution. that's what america will do with clear eye, working with a world that's united and with the sense of urgency that's required. but iran must know this time is not unlimited. and i've made the position the united states of america clear. iran must not get a nuclear weapon. this is not a danger that can be contained, and as president i've said all options are on the table for achieving our
objectives. america will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed iran. [ applause ] for young israelis, i know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that's even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day. you live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected the right of your nation to exist. your grandparents had to risk their lives and all they had to make a place for themselves in this world. your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the jewish state. your children will grow up knowing that people they've never met may hate them because of who they are in a region that
is full of turmoil and changing underneath your feet. so that's what i think about when israel's faced with these challenges. that sense of an israel that is surrounded by many in this region who still reject it and many in fact world who refuse to accept it. that's why the security of the jewish people in israel is so important. it cannot be taken for granted. but make no mistake. those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting israel's right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above because israel's not going anywhere. [ applause ]
and today i want to tell you, particularly the young people, so that there's no mistake here, so long as there is a united states of america -- [ speaking foreign language ] you are not alone. the question is, what kind of future israel will look forward to? israel is not going anywhere, but especially for the young people in this audience, the question is, what does its
future hold? and that brings me to the subject of peace. i know israel has taken risks for peace. brave leaders reached treaties with two of your neighbors. you made credible proposals to the palestinians at annapolis. you withdrew from gaza and lebanon and then faced terror and rockets. across the region you've extended a hand of friendship and all too often you've been confronted with rejection and in some cases the ugly reality of anti-semitism. so i believe that the israeli
people do want peace, and i also understand why too many israelis, maybe an increasing number, maybe a lot of young people here today are skeptical that it can be achieved. but today israel is at a crossroads. it can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when iron dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers. there's so many other pressing issues that demand your attention. and i know that only israelis can make the fundamental decision about your country's future. i recognize that. i also know, by the way, that not everyone in this hall will agree with what i have to say about peace. i recognize that there are those
who are not simply skeptical about peace but question its underlying premise, have a different vision for israel's future. and that's part of a democracy. that's part of the discourse between our two countries. i recognize that. but i also believe it's important to be open and honest, especially with your friends. i also believe that. you know, politically, given the strong bipartisan support for israel and america, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside, just express unconditional support for whatever israel decides to do. that would be the easiest political path. but i want you to know that i speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and i ask you to consider three points.
first, peace is necessary. i believe that. [ applause ] i believe that peace is the only path to true security. you can be -- you have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. given the demographics west of the jordan river. the only way for israel to thrive as a democratic and israeli state is by an independent and viable palestine. that is true.
[ cheers and applause ] there are other factors involved. given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation. and given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the israeli people over the long term is through absence of war because no wall is high enough and no iron dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm.
and this truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the arab world. i understand that with the uncertainty in region people in the streets, changes in leadership, the raise of non seq. secular parties in politics, it's tempted to turn inward because the situation outside of israel seems so chaotic. but this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve and commitment for peace. because as more governments respond to popular will, the days when israel could seek peace simply with a handful of autocratic leaders, those days are over. peace will have to be made among peoples, not just governments.
no one -- no single step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions. no single step is going to erase years of history and propaganda, but progress with the palestinians is a powerful way to begin while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and thrive on division. it would make a difference. so peace is necessary. but peace is also just. peace is also just. there is no question that israel has faced palestinian factions who turn to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities. that is all true.
and that's why security must be at the center of any agreement. and there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiations, which is why despite the criticism we've received, the united states will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the united nations. it has to be done by the parties. but the palestinian people's right to self-determination, their right to justice must also be recognized. [ applause ] put yourself in their shoes. look at the world through their eyes. it is not fair that a palestinian child cannot grow up
in a state of their own. living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents every single day. it's not just when violence against palestinians goes unpunished. it's not right to prevent palestinians from farming their lands or restricting a student's ability to move around the west bank or displaced palestinian families from their homes. neither occupation nor expulsion
is the answer. just as israelis built a state in their homeland, palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land. i'm going off script here for a second, but before i came here, i met with a group of young palestinians from the age of 15 to 22. and talking to them, they weren't that different from my daughters. they weren't that different from your daughters or sons. i honestly believe that if any
israeli parent sat down with those kids, they'd say, i want these kids to succeed. i want them to prosper. i want them to have opportunities just like my kids do. i believe that's what israeli parents would want for these kids if they had a chance to listen to them and talk to them. i believe that. [ cheers and applause ] now, only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. but remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the palestinians, you will define the future of israel as well.
as once said, i'm quoting, it is impossible to have a jewish democratic state at the same time to control all of israel. if we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all. or from a different perspective, i think of what the novelist david grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace. a peace of no choice, he said, must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice. [ applause ]
now, israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who's dedicated to its destruction. but while i know you have had differences with the palestinian authority, i genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in president abbas and the prime minister. i believe that. and they have a track record to prove it. over the last few years, they've built institutions and maintained security on the west bank in ways that few could have imagined just a few years ago. so many palestinians, including young people, have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations. there's an opportunity there. there's a window, which brings me to my third point. peace is possible.
it is possible. i'm not saying it's guaranteed. i can't even say that it is more likely than not, but it is possible. i know it doesn't seem that way. there are always going to be reasons to avoid risk. there are costs for failure. there will always be extremists who provide an excuse not to act. i know there must be something exhausting about endless talks about talks and daily controversies and just the grinding status quo. i'm sure there's a temptation just to say, oh, enough, let me focus on my small corner of the world and my family and my job and what i can control. but it's possible.
negotiations will be necessary, but there's a little secret about where they must lead. two states for two peoples. two states for two peoples. [ applause ] there will be differences about how to get there. there are going to be hard choice along the way. arab states must adapt to a world that has changed. the days when they could condemn israel to distract people from a lack of opportunity or government corruption or mismanagement, those days need to be over. now is the time for the arab world to take steps towards normalizing relations with israel. meanwhile, palestinians must recognize that israel will be a
jewish state and that israelis have the right to insist upon their security. israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace and that an independent palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn. i've suggested principles on territory and security that i believe can be the basis for these talks. but for the moment, put aside the plans and the process. i ask you instead to think about what can be done to build trust between people. four years ago i stood in cairo in front of a group of young
people. politically, religiously, they must seem a world away, but the things they want, they're not so different from what the young people here want. they want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education and get a good job, to worship got in their own way, to get married, to raise a family. the same is true of those young palestinians i met with this morning. the same is true for young palestinians who yearn for a better life in gaza. that's where peace begins. not just in the plans of leaders but in the hearts of people. not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections, that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of jerusalem. and let me say this as a politician. i can promise you this. political leaders will never take risks if the people do not
push them to take some risks. you must create the change that you want to see. ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. i know this is possible. look to the bridges being built in business in civil society by some of you here today. look at the young people who have not yet learned a reason to mistrust or those young people who have learned to overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents. because they simply recognize that behold more hopes in common than fears that drive us apart. your voices must be louder than those who drown out hope. your hopes must light the way forward. look to a future in which jews and muslims and christians can all live in peace and greater
prosperity in this holy land. believe in that. and most of all, look to the future you want for your own children, a future in which a jewish democratic vibrant state is protected and accepted for this time and for all time. there will be many who say this is not possible, but remember this. israel is the most powerful country in this region. israel has the unshakable support of the most powerful country in the world. israel's not going anywhere. israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but this is in your nature. israel also has the courage to see the world as it should be.
you know -- [ applause ] it was once said, in israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles. sometimes the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. that's a lesson that the world has learned from the jewish people. and that brings me to the final area that i'll focus on. prosperity and israel's broader role in the world. i know that all the talk about about security and peace can sometimes seem to dominate the headlines, but that's not where people live. and every day, even amidst the threats you face, israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities you're creating. through talent and hard work,
israelis have put this country at the forefront of the global economy. israelis understand the value of education and have produced ten nobel laureates. israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors. that spirit has led to economic growth and human progress. solar power and electric cars, bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives, stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease, cell phones and computer technology that change the way people around the world live. so if people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at tel aviv, home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers.
israelis are so active on social media that every day seem to bring a different facebook campaign about where i should give this speech. that innovation is just as important to the relationship between the united states and israel as our security cooperation. our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with israel nearly three decades ago. today the trade between our two countries is at $40 billion every year. more importantly, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments. it's pushing new frontiers of science and exploration. that's the kind of relationship that israel should have and could have with every country in the world. already we see how that
innovation could reshape this region. there's a program here in jerusalem that brings together young israelis and palestinians to learn vital skills in technology and business. an israeli and palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance start-ups. over 100 high-tech companies have found home on the west bank, which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the palestinian people. one of the great ironies of what's happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for, education, entrepreneurship, the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, the ability to connect to the global economy, those are things that can be found here in israel. this should be a hub for thri thriving regional trade and an engine for opportunity.
israel's already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy. and i believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, enhanced with lasting peace. [ applause ] here in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world's history, so much triumph and so much tragedy, israelis have built something that few could have imagined 65 years ago. tomorrow i will pay tribute to that history at the grave of a man who had the foresight to see the future of the jewish people, had to be reconnected to their past, at the grave of a man who understood that israel's victories in war had to be
followed by the battles for pea peace, where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the jewish people and all of humanity if we ever fail to be vigilant. we bear all that history on our shoulders. we carry all that history in our hearts. today as we face the twilight of israel's founding generation, you, the young people of israel, must now claim its future. it falls to you to write the next chapter in the great story of this great nation. and as the president of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend, i am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead.
and as a man who's been inspired in my own life within that jewish experience, i am hopeful we can draw upon what's best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war and to do the work of repairing this world. that's your job. that's my job. that's the task of all of us. may god bless you. may god bless israel. may god bless the united states of america. thank you. >> welcome, everyone. i'm alex witt in for thomas roberts. in a speech that extended close to 50 minutes, the president there in jerusalem's convention center speaking to a group of students and parents, israelis for the most part, and he has done a momentous job of delivering this speech. it is one that will not necessarily addressing policy in
particular, he did strike the tenor that needs to be achieved on both sides in order to ultimately achieve peace there in the middle east. i'm joined right now by andrea mitchell, who joins me from jerusalem, also nbc's peter alexander, who is traveling with the president, also from jerusalem. from cairo, nbc news foreign correspondent, and here in studio, james rueben, former state department spokesperson and former assistant secretary of state for public affairs. andrea, i'm going to reach out to you first. this was a speech that was peppered multiple times by loud applause. for anyone who was somewhat tentative there in israel about this president's trip and how he might be received, what do you think this speech did to change that? >> well, this speech was the core of the trip. there was the charm offensive and what has been wildly seen as a renewal of a relationship, a very troubled relationship, trying to restart the
relationship with prime minister netanyahu. earlier today, the trip to ramallah and the pledge to restart the peace talks and have a two-state solution, but saying very specifically that perhaps he got it wrong in cairo, reversing himself onset elements, on the settlement freeze saying that issue will follow, but first we have to deal with borders, with security for israel and state hood for the palestinians. he's definitely pulling back on his previous commitment on settlements, which really did sour the relationship with the israelis. that said, this was really the core. he connected the future of israel to these young people, to the civil rights movement. in fact, to his own experience, saying that it's the promise of freedom, that they have to deal with peace, and he was cheered. there was one heckler, but he was overridden by the cheers, saying that their future is really in their hands and they have to deal with the palestinian question. only a democratic israel can
remain as a jewish stated and fulfill the promises. i think he hit every note in talking about the promise of israel but also he did give some very specific messages. he repeated his warning to the assad regime not to dare use chemical weapons, which are of course a direct threat to israel as well, saying that the united states will respond. and he made a very strong iron-clad commitment on iran, another thing that israelis want to hear. >> you know, interesting you mention the heckler and you talk about the charm offensive. i believe it has been called operation desert schmooze by "the atlantic." he handled that very well. he got some laughs when he said, i wouldn't feel comfortable here if i hadn't been heckled at least once during a speech. but andrea, the genesis of all of this, and really as you talk about this being the crux of this particular trip, peace is necessary, peace is just, peace is possible. do you think those are the sentiments that are truly reflected there in israel?
do you think people believe that peace could be possible? is there any kind of a time frame that you ever hear people say, if only this could happen, that could happen? >> israel is prosperous, but israel is now threatened by all of the changes in the world around it. it's now encircled by islamic fundamentalism. it has the syrian civil war and the failure of the assad regime, which is, most people believe, inevitable. it could result in a vacuum that's far more dangerous to israel. we saw that experience in iraq. we see what can ensue after a totalitarian regime falls. so there's so many threats on all sides that the peace process with the palestinians has really been almost an afterthought in recent years, and the u.s. administration has not dedicated very much attention to it. now what we hear from this administration is that the new secretary of state john kerry will be staying behind, will
circle back to jerusalem on saturday night, meet with netanyahu and his people and try to reinvigorate it. so there was that attempt. we're seeing reports that abbas, the palestinian leader, is now willing to forego his requirement that a settlement freeze exists and be declared by netanyahu openly before any peace talks resume. it seems as though the palestinian stance is softening. but it is not front and center. the president tried to put it there today while at the same time delivering what i think israelis wanted to hear about iran and about syria. >> jamie, andrea brings up a good point, that abbas has, in a sense, reached out and said, okay, we will consider this aspect of things. how key is that to starting any sort of peace talks again? >> well, that has been the block to actual meetings. the palestinians have said until there's a settlement freeze, the position that the united states had taken as well that andrea
referred to, until there is such a freeze, then there won't be talks. so we may get to the phase where there are talks. but i think we need to put this in perspective. this is a president who began his administration making an idea of an israeli-palestinian side-by-side state achievable in one year. that's what he said when he launched george mitchell, the special envoy. then he gave this powerful speech in cairo that he referred to. but what he had never done until today, four years later, is make this powerful connection with israel for an american president. that is an absolute prerequisite for the peace process. remember the reason why the united states is special in the world is we're the only -- in the context of the peace process -- is because we're the only country that can possibly move israelis towards a compromise position and talk to the palestinians. but to have that power, to be special in that way, the united
states president must have a connection with israel and its people. he must be powerful in israel. he must be popular in israel. barack obama, to be candid, has not been popular in israel as compared to bill clinton and george bush. what this speech was about was trying to do in one hour what those politicians had done through engagement week after week, was to show the israelis that he understands intellectually, politically, he understands why they feel special about their country. to bring all that together, and as andrea said, this speech was designed to do all that. barack obama has shown in his career that these big set-piece speeches are his probably best tool as a president and as a political leader. if he can launch it, this will be the way to launch it. >> what is interesting, also, another aspect he brought was really an emotional connection. i was here with you.
he's talking as a parent and reached out to israeli parents and said, were you to speak to some of these young palestinians i spoke with this morning, you would wish them well, you would wish them prosperity and peace. how much, jamie, do you think israeli and palestinian politicians can step outside of their role as politicians and look just as parents, as people? can that make a difference? do you think if there's a ground swell that way? >> well, i think that's what the president was hoping to spark by reflecting his own feelings when he met these palestinian children and thought about his daughters and realized the similarities between people in the united states, people in israel, people in the palestinian territories, how the young people from all of these three parts of the world have so many similarities in today's connected world. you're right. he was trying to use that emotional connection. i think you saw him say there
that politicians don't act unless they're forced to act. several times he said that without pressure from the people in a country, in the palestinian territories, in america, the politicians aren't going to act. so he's hoping to spark two things. one, that the israelis believe that he really does have their back, as he has said. and that doesn't mean just saying it. they have to believe it. israelis have to believe it. two, launching this movement of people using the connection between young people and these three parts of the world to push their leaders. without that, peace may be possible and just and necessary, but he's saying it's not going to happen. >> and ayman, with regard to the perspective there in the arab world, i know you're there in cairo, break down quickly this speech and if you think it reached the palestinian people, if you think they heard what they needed to hear. because they also heard at the same time that this president very much backs the israel
lands, the people, the government. >> well, make no mistake about it. this was definitely a speech intended for the israeli public, but it was more a speech that was divided in different themes, if you will. at the very top of it, for the first third, it was the united states reaffirming support for israel, reaffirming its right to exist ideal logically as well as committing itself to the security needs of israel. that is obviously not lost on anyone in this part of the world. more interesting was the message that president obama tried to deliver to the israeli people, that they have to make a choice. that in the words of previous israeli leaders, israel cannot be a democracy, a jewish state while controlling the lives of millions of palestinians. that is the message that many in the arab world are going to look at very importantly. did that message resonate with the israeli public and whether or not the united states is now going to push forward to make sure that message is deeply embedded in future policy decisions. >> and peter, final question to
you. as a result of what appears to be a warming up in the relationship between benjamin netanyahu and the president, how much do you think that gives him that he's able to go into a speech like this with the white house administration working on it that there will be change in a positive way in the future? >> alex, i think it was the president who used some hebrew language throughout the course of his remarks today to make it clear to the people of israel that he understands not just intellectually but emotionally the plight of the jewish people and their connection to this land. that's why tomorrow he's going to punctuate his stop with visiting the grave of father of zionism. the biggest standing ovation, perhaps, came when he said israel is not going anywhere. this is the speech, according to
those we visited with over the last several days in israel, the remarks and the statements and the way that he has carried himself with the jewish people and with benjamin netanyahu over the last several days, this is the speech and this is the visit that the israeli people wanted to see early in the president's administration, in his first year as a senior administration official, formally guiding the policy. advisers acknowledged that the first year of his first term was in many ways a miscalculation as it related to the relationship with israel. as jamie said a moment ago, they're hoping that doing what he does best, giving speeches, that he may be able to renew that relationship and renew the strength of his ability to affect change in this region. >> peter alexander, andrea mitchell overseas. thanks to you. jamie rueben, thanks for joining me. on capitol hill, the budget battle is heating up just in time for next week's sequester deadline, a measure to keep the
government running for the next six months has been headed to the white house after it pass the moments ago in the house. just about five minutes earlier, the house also passed the much-debated ryan budget with ten republicans voting no. the plan promises deep spending cuts to entitlement programs, a sticking point for democrats. however, congressman ryan and speaker boehner wasted no time on the house floor pointing fingers at president obama for the budget standstill. >> the president has an opportunity during this critical debate to come forward and to help make this part of his legacy like it has become part of the clinton legacy. >> he gets his ncaa bracket in on time, but still no budget. >> mike, good day to you. third time the house is voting on the ryan budget. you have house speaker boehner giving his reading. what is different this time around, especially when it comes to the politics of it all? >> i'll tell you, alex, there's something remarkable going here
in congress. not only is there passionate debate, there is finger pointing going on back and forth. that goes without saying on capitol hill. but it's followed by actual votes in the house and in the senate. let's starts with the positive here. at least there's one positive aspect to this. the united states government no longer faces a threat of shutdown next week on the 27th. that's when the so-called continuing resolution that funds the government was set to run out. both the house and the senate with, get this, bipartisan majorities coasted through the spending bill that's going to keep the government running until october 1st. that does set the stage for the budget. one other remarkable thing about that spending bill, alex, inside it, embedded in that, those sequester cuts. nothing going to be done about that. that's now official. the house just passed the budget. the senate's debating a budget right now on the senate floor. that's the good news. the bad news is it's absolutely impossible for them to get together. very unlikely, i should say, on a unified budget that's going to set the stage for perhaps some grand bargain talks that will come up later in the spring.
>> okay. mike, many thanks for that. we're going to take you to new york city hall where mayor bloomberg and vice president joe biden are talking about guns and gun control. let's take a listen. >> -- 40% of gun purchases in the nation are made. more than 6.5 million gun sales during 2012 alone. there is no question that if this becomes law, it will keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. it will reduce violent crime. it will save lives. we know that's true because in states that already require background checks on private sales, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner armed with a gun is 38% lower than in states that don't have such background checks. the rate of firearm assaults including attempted murders is 17% lower. so there's no doubt that requiring background checks for
all gun sales saves lives and there's no doubt that the american people support it. the only question is whether congress will have the courage to do the right thing or whether they will allow more innocent people, including innocent children, to be gunned down. it has been 97 days since newtown. in that time, we estimate that more than 3,000 americans have been murdered with guns. almost none of the victims generated national headlines. but each murder was a tragedy for the victim's family and for the community. if congress does nothing, another 12,000 people will be murdered with guns this year alone. we just cannot let that happen. and it's up to us, all of us, to convince members of congress that it's in everyone's interest to act now. now, before i turn the floor over to the vice president, let me just say that there's no better person to be leading this effort in washington than vice president biden.
when he was in the senate, he was a leader in getting the original background check bill through congress and in drafting the original assault weapons ban. and even though restrictions on military-style weapons will not be part of the bill that goes to the floor of the u.s. senate, he will get a vote by the full senate as an amendment to the bill. and everyone's going to have to stand up and say yea or nay. then the rest of us have to decide just how we feel about people and their stance. we will do everything to win support for it, and i know the white house will be doing everything they can too. we're going to continue giving the vice president all the support we can, and we thank him for his leadership and for coming here to stand with us today. mr. vice president. >> thank you, mr. mayor. let me begin by saying that there has been no support that has been more consequential than the support coming from mayor bloomberg. it has been immense.
it is organized, it is comm committed, and it is consequential. let me start by saying that i was told in 1992 when i introduced many of these reforms that there was no way, you never beat the gun lobby, it's not possible. well, in 1994, we did. in 1994 reason prevailed, and we passed the assault weapons ban, a limitation on the size of magazines, and a number of other measures, i colluncluding expan the so-called brady bill in back ground checks. one other thing, they worked. they all had a positive impact on public safety. they all had a positive impact on public safety. i did an interview yesterday saying, well, the impact on each went down and was this, that, or the other. said, that's like saying we
shouldn't take the lead out of gasoline because it led to global warming. it wasn't the whole answer. combined, these are common sense approaches that ironically, mr. mayor, in the polling data we've done recently, the american people already think that these gun safety proposals are in place. the american people, a significant number, already think there are universal background checks. they already think that anyone who buys multiple guns has to be reported. they already think -- i mean, you can just go down the list. so the irony here is what we're proposing is simply common sense that the american people, addition to the polls that the mayor cited that i was going to mention and not repeat, in addition to that polling data, there's polling underneath it that says, guess what, we think you've already done that. so this is -- and there's not one single thing being proposed, not one, not one, not one, that
infringes upon anyone's constitutional second amendment right. i would like to take the moment to thank the mayor and the people standing behind me. presumptuous to say, but we've actually become good acquaintances and friends. we've met many times so far. i want to tell you that -- or emphasize what the mayor said. i know you know it, but it's worth repeating. it takes an enormous amount of courage to be here. you say, what's the courage? i haven't lost a child. i understand that every time you show up at something that ranges from a memorial service or to talk about the circumstance in which your child was lost it comes back to you in a flash as if they got that phone call yesterday. i told you before, i don't know how you do it, but you do it. you do it. you're one of the reasons why all these pieces of legislation passed through the judiciary
committee and why we have a fighting chance. and so, you know, when you think about grace and jesse and these two beautiful little babies -- that's what they were, beautiful little babies. and lauren, who was not merely a teacher. this is a woman who if this happened on a battlefield, she'd get a commendation. literally, not figuratively. she'd be getting a commendation for her bravery in trying to protect her comrades. in this case, trying to protect these little angels. three months ago a deranged man walked into sandy hook elementary school with a weapon of war. that's what he walked in with, a weapon of war. that weapon of war has no place on american streets. taking it off american streets has no impact on one's constitutional right to own a weapon.
no less than justice scalia acknowledged in the last decision that the government has the right to limit certain weapons from being able to be possessed by american citizens. this is not a constitutional decision. if you notice, when the ban was in place last time, there was not a constitutional challenge that went anywhere to the existence of the ban. so let's get this straight. this is not about anybody's constitutional right to own a weapon. for all those who say we shouldn't and can't ban assault weapons, for all those who say the politics are too hard, how can they say that? when you take a look at those 20 beautiful babies and what happened to them and those six teachers and administrators. this same young man, he not only came loaded with -- armed with an assault weapon, a weapon of war, he came loaded with one
30-round magazine after another, one after another. an estimated 150 bullets were fired by this young man. and the police responded in 2 1/2 minutes. as my friends behind me did, i met with those state police officers. i met with them. i met with them privately. all you had to do was look in their eyes and see that vacant they were. they were impacted. some of them needing some help. and tell me that you can't take off the street these weapons of war? for all of those who say we shouldn't or couldn't ban high-capacity magazines, i just ask them one question -- think about newtown. think about newtown. think about how many of these
children or teachers may be alive today had he had to reload three times as many times as he did. think about what happened out in, where gabrielle giffords, my good friend, was shot and mortally wounded. think about when that young man had to try to change the clip, had he only had a ten-round clip when he changed the clip and fumbled and had it knocked out of his hands, how many more people would have been alive? and tell me, tell me how it violates anyone's constitutional right to be limited to a clip that holds ten rounds, instead of 30. or in aurora, 100. this is a false choice being presented to the american people by those who are taking on our position here. look folks, we have a responsibility to act. a lot of these voices have to be
for those beautiful babies. the loudest voices have to be for those silenced voices. close to 3,000 since newtown. gunned down on american streets and homes and neighborhoods. you know, it's time for the political establishment to show the courage your daughter showed. and it doesn't take one-tenth the courage that your daughter had. i was saying to, i was saying to one of the men you're about to hear from. you know, it must be awful. being in public office and concluding that even though you might believe, you should take action. that you can't take action because of the political consequence you face. what a heck of a way to make a living. i mean sincerely, what a heck of a way to have to, have to act.
the message i want to get across mr. mayor, is the risk does not exist as is exaggerated today. because the vast majority of the american people, the vast majority of gun owners, the vast majority, even close to majority of nra members who only represent four million of the gun owners in america, think what the mayor has been pushing and the president is proposed is just simple common sense. it will not solve every problem, it will not end every gun death, but it will substantially reduce it. and it matters, it matters. even if one of the people standing behind me. even one of their children were alive. because of what we've done. these are commonsense proposals, they are, we're talking about banning assault weapons, limiting high-capacity magazines.
passing a real universal background checks. gun trafficking legislation will allow the police the opportunity to be able to deal more rationally with straw sales. those, those sales where people go in, buy multiple guns and then sell them to the bad guys. mental health, a significant commitment to mental health. and school safety. one of the reasons why the mayor has been so successful this time is not only his innovation, but you have a whole hell of a lot of cops. that's the reason. the cops matter. so-called biden crime will put 130 cops in the street. there's 30,000 badges sitting in a drawer today because of the economic difficulty of localities as a consequence of the recession. we propose adding back another 1,500 of them. it doesn't move at all. i mean excuse me, 15,000 of them. but cops matter. they matter. it impacts. so there's no one thing we can do for them absolutely confident
and aim not going to rest, nor is the president, until we do all of these things. all of these things. enhance the safety of the american people and do not diminish one iota, not one iota. any constitutionally guaranteed right of any american. thank you, mr. mayor. >> mr. vice president -- >> you have the mayor of new york and the vice president talking about commonsense legislation for gun control. mire power panel joins me, democratic strategist and member of the advisory board for j street and michael steele, former rnc chairman and msnbc analyst. commonsense legislation, was it common sense that was used by harry reid, senator harry reid by not putting forth diane 79 stein's assault weapons ban. not giving that to a floor vote in order to try to save and preserve other things that might be able to be passed? >> a majority didn't believe he had the votes to get past 6, the
magic number in the senate. i think the divisive issue of guns being used primarily by folks on the right to drive voters isn't working and that's what we see in the polls. that's analagous to what we're seeing going back to the president's speech in israel. 70% of jews voted for president obama, we're seeing wedge issues failing to divide democratic voters, frankly. >> and michael, with regard again to commonsense legislation, the appeal by the vice president and the mayor of new york. what is it about that that republicans don't sign on to those people that want to see those individual rights preserved. you heard the vice president saying none of this legislation proposal infringes on people's individual rights. >> that's the word today. and it's the slippery slope factor. i think there's how do you put into law those guarantees that the government won't come back around later on and chisel away further at the ability of a
citizens to own guns, to david's point about republicans, harry reid should have put this on the floor. he didn't want to expose his democrats. and so you know, this thing cuts both ways, the democrats are just as nervous about this gun issue as republicans are concerned about the constitutional side of it. so this -- cuts both ways. >> sometimes common sense can come up against political prudence. guys, thank you very much for joining me, i appreciate that busy hour of news, everyone, but that wraps things up for me, i'll see you back tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern. "now" with alex wagner is next. license and registration please. what's this? uhh, it's my geico insurance id card, sir. it's digital, uh, pretty cool right? maybe.